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While there was lots of great ideas and products for healthcare spaces showcased at NeoCon in Chicago this week, healthcare furniture manufacturers Herman Miller Healthcare and Steelcase Health stole the show.

Having just changed its name from Nurture by Steelcase, Steelcase Health had a lot to talk about. One salesperson told me, "It's a better description of what we do." I agree. And what I saw there -- and at Herman Miller Healthcare as well -- were sleek, modern-looking, multi-functional products and spaces.

Gone is the brick wall and fireplace that was the focal point of the Nurture showroom a few years ago. In its place?  Clinical and waiting spaces that demonstrate the integration of technology and the need for private communication.

On the wall at Herman Miller Healthcare were the words: "A Healthcare Living Office. Thriving Environments for working and healing." This in response to the shift to outpatient and team-based care delivered in places that are more like offices than traditional hospitals.

Makes sense for a couple of companies that are the pioneers of the office furniture industry and know a lot about workplace design.  As it does for others like KI, Knoll, and Haworth who are also in the healthcare sector.

But those companies were just showcasing product at NeoCon. Steelcase and Herman Miller were offering ideas.  They took a content marketing approach to showroom design and product presentation.

For example, as part of its emphasis on the Patient Centered Medical Home model at NeoCon this year, Herman Miller Healthcare invited Georgia Tech’s Dr. Craig Zimring and Jennifer DuBose to present some of their initial research results on the importance of critical design factors for shared workspaces in PCMH outpatient clinics.  And Steelcase Health gave away copies of its recently published 138-page report, "Time for Change:  New Solutions for Healthcare Spaces."

Upbeat Mood

Walking the floors with a focus on healthcare products, I found the mood to be upbeat.  Everyone I talked to seemed to be energized by where healthcare in the U.S. is heading. Business is good.

And like I wrote about last week, they are all trying to figure out how to remain relevant in the NOW healthcare while transitioning to the NEXT healthcare.

Now, I was only at NeoCon for a day and a half, so there's no way I could have seen every healthcare product among the roughly 1M square feet of showroom and exhibit space on the contract furnishings floors of the Merchandise Mart. So I used the Best of NeoCon winners as my guide.  Here are some of the standouts:

  • CF Stinson -- EnVi claims to be the industry's first collection of non-woven upholstery produced using 80% natural and renewable raw materials. Bio synthetics provide a sustainable alternative to conventional vinyl and polyurethane. Brilliant.
  • KnollTextiles -- Spirit Collection of upholstery, wall covering, privacy/drapery curtains and panel fabrics offer affordable Modern design options for all areas of the commercial to residential market, office to healthcare. Florence Knoll would be proud.
  • Nemschoff/Herman Miller Healthcare -- Palisade guest/lounge seating collection provides the ability to create "accommodating and responsive seating" in the patient room. Open and intuitive storage box is a nice touch.
  • Okamura -- Divo is an IV stand with a colorful ring shaped design in the middle that can be used as a handle, but also as a tray on which both patients and medical professionals can temporarily place small items. Fun design for a common piece of equipment.
  • Shaw Contract Group -- Collective Time is a tile and broadloom collection that takes inspiration of the shifting light captured from day to night and proportions of time tracked in our daily routines of activity and rest. Stunning design.
  • Tandus -- Tapis flooring's design is informed by the emotional connection we have to traditional textiles. Four designs allude to Oriental rugs and tapestries, creating warm, welcoming and familiar aesthetics. Sort of reminded me of the old Flotex product, only with better designs.

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Leave a comment

Michael Walsh

10 years ago

My nonscientific healthcare observation after attending the show and meeting some attendees with specific healthcare furniture/furnishings interests was that attendees tended to visit the companies with strong established healthcare brands and the more recent entrants to market were not visited.

There might be a message in this for healthcare furniture/furnishings manufacturers.

Love the BLOG as always.

Sara Marberry

10 years ago

That may be true, Michael, although I haven't really observed it.

Patti Lynn

10 years ago

The modular units by Steelcase Health are fabulous and will go a long way towards creating easily adaptable shared spaces. Love it!

Margaret Fleming

10 years ago

Thank you for being so regular and faithful to your blog.
Of course, I was as always reading for any sign of furniture to fit individual patients. Maybe next year.

Sara Marberry

10 years ago

Interesting idea, Margaret.


10 years ago

What about Haworth?!

Sara Marberry

10 years ago

Haworth stole the show for office furniture with Openest, but not for healthcare furniture!

My Top 10 Healthcare Design Posts in 2014 - Sara Marberry Sara Marberry

9 years ago

[…] While there was lots of great ideas and products for healthcare spaces showcased at Neocon in Chicago this week, healthcare furniture manufacturers Herman Miller Healthcare and Steelcase Health stole the show. Having just changed its name from Nurture by Steelcase, Steelcase Health had a lot to talk about…Read more. […]

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What's my story? I'm a healthcare and senior living design knowledge expert who writes and speaks frequently about trends and issues affecting these two industries. I'm also a strategic marketing consultant and content creator, working with companies and organizations who want to improve the quality of healthcare and senior living through the design of the physical environment. You can reach me at .

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